China is the World’s Biggest Source of Top-tier Artificial Intelligence Researchers

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China has emerged as the world’s leading source of top-flight artificial intelligence research talent (AI) according to a new report from Macro Polo.

According to Macro Polo’s Global AI Talent Tracker China is the country of origin for 29% of the world’s top-tier AI researchers, as compared to 20% from the US, 18% from Europe and 8% from India.

Canada accounted for 5%, followed by the UK (4%), Iran (3%) and Israel (3%).

Macro Polo determined who these top-tier researchers were on the basis of papers accepted at the Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) December 2019 conference – one of the largest and most selective conferences in AI research.

The December 2019 NeurIPS conference saw the submission of 6,615 papers by a record-breaking 15,920 researchers, with an acceptance rate of 21.6%.

While China is the biggest source of the world’s top-tier AI talent, the US is where most of them do their research.

59% of the world’s top-tier AI researchers work in the US, while China comes a distant second at 11%, followed by Europe (10%), Canada (6%) and the UK (4%).

At US institutions 27% of AI researchers are from China, as compared to 31% who are from the US. India and Europe both account for 11% of top AI researchers at US institutions.

88% of Chinese AI PhD students choose to work in the US after graduating, with only 10% opting to pursue careers back home.

When it comes to the the most elite (top 0.5%) of AI researchers, 35% earned their undergraduate degrees in the US, followed by India (12%), China (10%), Israel (7%) and France (6%).

65% of the world’s most elite AI researchers work in the US. Canada comes in second place at 10%, followed by France with 8% of the most elite talent.

Out of the top 25 institutions for top-tier AI research based on papers published at NeurIPS 2019 just two are Chinese – Tsinghua University (9th place tie with Facebook) and Peking University (18th place).

18 of these institutions are situated in the US, with the top five positions consisting of Google, Stanford University, Carnegie Mellon University, MIT and Microsoft Research.

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